FIFA’s Strong-Arming Tactics Won’t Work In North America In 2026

FIFA and Qatar don’t want any protests.

The governing body of soccer, FIFA, awarded the 2026 Men’s World Cup tournament to the United States, Canada and Mexico. Will FIFA be able to wield an iron fist over sports activism in North America like it can do in Qatar? The answer. The group will probably try but fail. FIFA will not be able to silence its North American critics including the stars of the show, the players. In Qatar it is easier for FIFA to crack down on protests. European teams dropped plans to wear “OneLove” armbands in support of LGBTQ rights during the tournament after warnings from FIFA that they would be penalized for wearing the armbands. In deference to the people who flooded FIFA with money to land the games, the Qataris, FIFA decided to promote its “No Discrimination” armbands. Football’s Laws of the Game rules specify that a player’s equipment including an armband cannot incorporate any political, religious or personal slogans.

Meanwhile the issue of the Qataris stadiums built by slave laborers or indentured servants is not going away. The European Parliament passed a resolution asking Qatar and FIFA to extend compensation for families of workers who suffered while building World Cup 2022 infrastructure. FIFA has endured 12 years of criticism for selecting Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup. There were allegations that there was bribery and corruption during the 2010 bidding process, and FIFA ignored the country’s human rights record. FIFA also has ignored the treatment of migrant workers who built the stadiums and FIFA has been criticized by activists, politicians and football associations. None of this seemed to matter to FIFA head Gianni Infantino except that felt he was picked on because FIFA took Qatari money to get the 2022 event.

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Poland’s Grzegorz Krychowiak (10) and Mexico’s Edson Alvarez go for a header during a World Cup group C soccer match at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)